When I was checking the pool specs online before coming, I noticed that the hotel had a mandatory policy that all swimmers must wear caps—which I thought a little strange, but not a demand that I couldn’t comply with. Even though I have been swimming for years, though, I have never used a cap, so I stopped at Dick’s the day before I left Cincinnati and bought one. [Editor’s note: Anyone who saw the haircut Michael had given himself just before he left home would seriously doubt that anything falling off that head could even get trapped in a pool filter, let alone clog it.
What I thought was going to be a non-event turned out to be an unexpected challenge for me. I am not sure why a little thing on my head should have had such a great impact, but when I put it on, got in the water and started to swim, I nearly panicked. It was almost as hard as learning to breathe on my left side. While I normally breathe every third stroke, alternating right side and left side, I could barely make it two strokes without feeling like I was gasping for air. I could do only one lap freestyle, then had to do breaststroke the next lap in order to calm down. Gradually, I got more comfortable with the change in my routine, and about the 30th length, I was breathing normally and able to get back to alternating sides. But it wasn’t until the 50th length that I was able to stop doing breaststroke altogether and move to just freestyle. I didn’t realize how much a creature of habit I am. On the positive side, I am glad to say that I am still able to learn and adapt to my surroundings.
I didn’t calculate how much time I needed for the swim, so again I was late getting to the office, which again meant that I was “on time.”
By the end of the day, I was not only again completely comfortable with the subject matter, but I was remembering most of the subtle bits of institutional knowledge that I had acquired over six years that had never been—and probably couldn’t be—documented. I was able to make some timely recommendations of what the team needed to do, and then dove in and created a few essential deliverables that the team had not planned on. I was starting to feel good about being here.
For dinner, I went to Cava Bodega on Middle Street, just off the pedestrian mall. The tapas I ordered included Moorish couscous with rose petals and hay-smoked yoghurt, and a free-range pork shank fillet, wrapped in serrano ham with apricots. Even though my gastro system was still on the iffy side, it tasted so good, I couldn’t help myself. I should have stopped there, but how could I resist churros with chocolate sauce, chocolate ice cream and honeycomb? There are a few things in life that just cannot be done, and passing up a dessert like that is one of them!
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